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Yankees Mailbag: The youth movement arrives (again)

For the first time since 2016, the kids are taking the helm. What’s in store for this new potential core?

New York Yankees Spring Training Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images

Good afternoon everyone, it’s time to dive back into the mailbag and answer some of your questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

lidbit asks: Most of us are glad to finally see the youth movement take hold. How much sooner should it have happened?

As far as the prospects we’re finally seeing join the major league team are concerned, I actually don’t think this was overdue. I fully expected to never see Jasson Domínguez in 2023, and I thought Austin Wells was still a bit off as well. These players, as well as Everson Pereira before them, pushed the envelope by tearing the cover off of the ball in the minors over the last few months. They’ve taken a major leap in this time, especially considering the former two had never even seen Triple-A pitching beforehand, and without that I think the Yankees would’ve been doing more harm than good in trying to promote them to the bigs.

Now, should they have given guys like Estevan Florial a legitimate look at some point when the slide towards the bottom began? Sure, and they should’ve done it a while ago, but they didn’t and at this point simply won’t (particularly since Florial is a minor league free agent after this year). What’s done is done at this point, and I’m pleasantly surprised that we at least are getting this window into the future now instead of somewhere down the line next year.

Keiter78 asks: What prospect do you think has the highest chance to be playing for the big club after spring training next year?

So Pereira could’ve made this an easy choice with the lead he had in terms of playing time, but unfortunately he’s off to a cold start in the Bronx and would likely need a scorching streak to close out the year to dissuade the front office from at least looking at adding an outfielder. That also affects Dominguez’s path, as he could stick the landing at either center or left if that’s open as well, but a free agent acquisition or a trade could push him out until later in the year.

There’s next to nothing on the market for catchers, though, and perhaps that makes Wells the easiest fit — Jose Trevino will be coming back off of a season-ending injury, but Ben Rortvedt surely isn’t in the future plans and Kyle Higashioka will be entering his final year of arbitration in 2024. That seems like a perfect opportunity to shed payroll and still improve by swapping those two out for Wells, even if there’s some doubts about his viability at the position long-term. His fit at first base also offers him a positive as Anthony Rizzo insurance, which is a minor boost but worth mentioning.

BFear04 asks: Do you think the Yanks will resign IKF given he’s a great utility player as well as Bader?

Disregarding the Bader portion since this question was asked before he was waived, I do think there’s a decent chance that IKF returns next season. His performance in a backup role far outpaced what most of us had expected after a disastrous year as the starting shortstop, and for a time he was even one of the most consistent bats in the lineup. That faded as the team was forced to keep him in the everyday lineup and he came back down to earth, but overall his body of work has been more than admirable. If he’s not getting thrown a bag by some other team, there’s no reason why he couldn’t help the Yankees in 2024.

Now, in terms of the team fitting him in, it becomes a bit more complicated when you consider who else is on the roster. DJ LeMahieu isn’t going anywhere yet, but he may be approaching an everyday utility role himself as the team starts focusing on the youngsters more and that constitutes the biggest hurdle to justifying keeping IKF around. He may not be the batting champion of a few years ago, but LeMahieu still has enough steam to warrant more of the playing time if healthy. Health is the key though — he and many others in the lineup have been highly unreliable in that category, so having the insurance of another capable body that can play around the field might just be worth it.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Do you think any members of the Yankee organization read these pages?

I doubt any of the main decision-makers are reading our pieces (our writers’ clear preferences for certain moves have certainly been ignored, at least). That said, there’s definitely a mole in the PSA Slack, and your guess is as good as mine for who it is.